William Cobbing GRADIVA PROJECT at Freud Museum and Camden Arts Centre

William Cobbing GRADIVA PROJECT at Freud Museum and Camden Arts Centre

The Freud Museum

December 5, 2007
William Cobbing GRADIVA PROJECT at Freud Museum and Camden Arts Centre
William CobbingGradiva Project

The Freud Museum

20 Maresfield Gardens, London NW3 5SX

Tel 44 (0)20 7435 2002

[email protected]

Open Wednesday – Sunday 12- 5pm


William Cobbing’s solo exhibition ‘Gradiva Project’ at The Freud Museum incorporates new sculpture, installation and video related to the Gradiva bas-relief, a plaster cast of which Freud displayed in his study. Gradiva is the subject of Wilhelm Jensen’s gothic novel, in which a young archaeologist, Hanold, dreams of the bas-relief coming to life from stone only to be buried alive underneath the ash of the AD79 eruption of Vesuvius. Hanold becomes enthralled with her distinctive gait (Gradiva meaning ‘beautiful step’), deluding himself that the fantasy of his dream can play out into the reality of his waking hours. Freud was fascinated by the novel’s archaeological dream narrative, relating it to his own psychoanalytic enquiry, namely ‘burial by repression and excavation by analysis’.

For the exhibition William Cobbing has embossed a copy of the Gradiva bas-relief onto a cast iron manhole cover, installing it on the pathway in The Freud Museum’s front garden. Placing the Gradiva cover underfoot, on the threshold of the Museum, reminds us that a journey to Freud’s former house is one leading into a realm of doubles and ghostliness. Inside the Museum Cobbing has created works drawing on Gradiva’s narrative of burial, memory and desire. In a series of videos people appear to be buried alive under layers of earthly material, wrestling with each other or their surroundings, to unsettlingly surreal effect. Discretely blended into the domestic space of the Museum is an immured figure, half excavated from a concrete casing and plumbed into a doorway, prompting a sense of a parallel existence behind the walls of the Museum.

Gradiva Project‘s curator, Jon Bird, will discuss the exhibition with William Cobbing on Tuesday 18 December 2007 at 7.00pm.

Running alongside Gradiva Project at Freud Museum is an artist’s project, exhibition book launch and live art performance at nearby Camden Arts Centre.

Artist’s Project 6 December 2007 – 10 February 2008

William Cobbing has installed two manhole covers with embossed bas-reliefs on the forecourt of Camden Art Centre, drawing attention to the hidden underworld of drains below ground level. The bas-reliefs on the covers derive from surrealist images by André Masson of Gradiva and Acéphale, reflecting the more subversive portrayal of the Gradiva story in surrealist circles.

Book Launch Wednesday 12 December 2007 7.00 – 8.30pm

A fully illustrated book with texts by Jon Bird, Mignon Nixon, Joanne Morra and Rebecca Heald will be published to accompany Gradiva Project, with Jon Bird chairing a discussion on the texts.

Live Art Performance Wednesday 30 January 2008 7.00 – 8.00pm

In William Cobbing’s Galerie Gradiva a group of people shape a malleable clay installation which surrounds them. Galerie Gradiva is specially commissioned for Six of One at Camden Arts Centre, a programme of performances examining the complex relationship between performance and sculpture, temporality and the monumental.

Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, London NW3 6DG

Open Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm

Tel 44 (0)20 7472 5500

info @camdenartscentre.org


William Cobbing born 1974, lives and works in London. Since studying at De Ateliers in Amsterdam, he has had solo exhibitions at Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam (2002); Netwerk Centre for Contemporary Art, Belgium (2006); and group exhibitions including ‘A Secret History of Clay: from Gauguin to Gormley’ Tate Liverpool (2004); ‘Body-Con’ AIT, Tokyo (2004); and ‘Library of Babel’ Courtauld Institute of Arts, London (2005).

Gradiva Project is funded by The Henry Moore Foundation, Arts Council England, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, and Austrian Cultural Forum.

Image above:

Gradiva Project (2006/7) cast iron manhole cover and lifting keys, 67 x 48 x 1.4cm

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December 5, 2007

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